I recently had a chat with Michelle who has been a very active part of our volunteer team since we first began, serving on a team and also making regular befriending calls from home. Michelle has been an enormous asset to our team and has given so generously of her time, so it was good to hear a little more about what motivates her.
The Restore Programme is a series of courses designed to help you feel in control of your life. But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s Rachel’s* story of how she came to join and complete the Restore Programme…
By Pam Jenkinson (NLC Project worker)
COVID-19 has had a major impact on the physical health of millions of people around the world, but also significantly on people’s mental health. Anxiety is one of the root problems many people are dealing with and within our Night Light Cafes this is one of the primary reasons we have found, as to why some of our guests don’t feel able to attend in person just yet.
Speaking within my own friendship groups, there has definitely been a divide between those who have felt they have been able to get back out there (safely as possible) and those who still remain extremely cautious and have real anxiety about mixing with people and leaving the security of their own houses.
We caught up with Reece, who from the end of September took on our new exciting and challenging role of Energize Apprentice.
Reece is working with the Energize team supporting our busy programme of schools work, activity clubs and holiday schemes and has already brought lots of enthusiasm and ideas to Acts Trust.
What was life like for you as a teenager in Lincoln? Biggest challenges, things you most enjoyed?
As a teeenager knowing there was nowhere to go or nothing to do led me to getting into a lot of trouble. I couldn’t get a job and ended up hanging out with a group my age, chilling, smoking and not caring much. I didn’t feel that comfortable though, and felt that I was going the wrong way, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Growing up in Lincoln has some really good things though- there’s lots of good outdoor space and it’s not a big city so it’s easy to see people if you want to.
When did you first start getting involved in Energize? What do you remember from your first sessions?
I got involved with Energize about 7 years ago when I was 13. My first session with Energize was at Waddington. I came along with my cousin, and found it easy to make new friends. I suddenly found myself feeling more confident and able to speak to more people- I wasn’t like that before.
Sarah- the youth leader at the time- gave me lots of confidence and had a big impact on me. She really helped me to feel accepted and welcome regardless of what was going on in my life. Having someone who was outside of my everyday life who showed an interest in me was so helpful and Sarah was so kindhearted, straight talking and easy to relate to. She was exactly who I needed at the time and brought the best out of me.
What impact did this have on your life?
I grew in confidence to keep coming and eventually to step out and volunteer. This made me feel part of a team who had a positive influence on my life.
I found that I was always accepted and able to build new friendships with people. It also helped me to see what life is really about and understand there were some good things out there for people like me.
What was it about Energize that made you want to keep coming back?
The welcoming place each week, and having the same people keep coming back. This gave me confident, good role models to speak to about anything that was going on. I felt cared for and a real part of Energize.
Why did you want to start volunteering with Energize?
I started volunteering when I was 15, and helping with clubs and holiday schemes. I just wanted to me more a part of the Energize project and also to grow in leadership skills and voicing ideas, knowing this would make an impact on other people’s lives.
What have been your some of your most fun volunteering moments?
I like the challenging young people! I was at the Waddington club and there was a lad in the back room making other people feel really intimidated. It sounds strange but learning to deal with conflict was a really good thing for me.
But in terms of fun moments, I love summer schemes. We work on lots of estates around Lincoln running activities, sports, trips, water fights and inflatables. I was on the Birchwood estate and had such a good afternoon, and build a strong connection with some of the local young people on the estate.
What are you doing with Energize now? What are your hopes for this over the next two years?
I’m now, as of the end of September, working as the Energize Apprentice. This is my dream job. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, and over the next two years I’d like to learn how to have a positive, lasting impact on young people’s lives and create similar opportunities to the ones I had. After these two years, I’d love to work for Energize still as an Activity Worker- this is a great place to be and I love the work we do.
How can people get involved or support?
We’re always looking for people to volunteer with us- it’s a brilliant experience and was so good for me. (Get in touch for more info about this).
Also… we’re host a murder mystery night next Wednesday, 24th November! You can still book tickets here if you’re interested.
As a team, we recently made a new, twelve-week course as part of our schools-work projects. The course is called ‘Peer Mentoring.’ Our aim and hope is to empower and equip older pupils, from year 12-13, with the tools and experience to mentor younger pupils in their school.
The first six weeks focus on different areas of mentoring. These include, ‘good help, seeing the best in others, being yourself, empathy, healthy thinking, skillful thinking and getting started.’ The following six weeks will be when the pupils are paired with younger pupils and, as a team, we will meet with the peer mentors to discuss how their mentoring sessions are going.
We are currently rolling out a trial of the course in a secondary school at the moment. This will enable us to reflect, adapt, and improve the course, and start it again for the next group of students. Our first week was really successful! We were able to build great foundational relationships with the pupils, which we hope will enable us to teach them well.
Research has found that peer mentoring has high success rates, as student mentees are said to connect more with mentors when they’re closer in age as they feel that can relate to them more than an adult or teacher. To reinforce this, we have gathered the perspectives of teachers, qualified counsellors, and therapists. The conclusion from the discussions we had was that they believe peer mentoring will have many positive outcomes and is worth the investment.
We are excited about the starting of this course and are believing for it to connect well with the peer-mentors, and as an overflow effect, their pupils will benefit from strong mentoring sessions.
Click here to find out more information on our Energize Project.
The Night Light Cafe recently had the pleasure of working with LORIC (Lincolnshire Open Research and Innovation Centre) in the production of a report compiled to demonstrate the value of the service offered. The findings portrayed in the report have been an immense encouragement to all the team, who have worked tirelessly to build this project over the past 20 months, through the unforeseen covid climate which posed many obstacles we would never have anticipated having to overcome when we set out on this journey.
by Pam Jenkinson Café Project Worker
When someone wants to volunteer with our Night Light team there are several ways that they can get involved. The majority of our volunteers opt to join a café team, where they meet with our guests face to face and go on a team rota. However, sometimes one of our volunteers offers to become a phone volunteer. We really value these people because they support us weekly, making calls to some of our most vulnerable guests and are the consistent support that they need when they are going through a difficult time.
On the 5th October our Community Grocery store will be opening at Central Methodist Church. This will be a great opportunity for those needing to use Foodbank on a regular basis to be able to shop in a supermarket and pay for their food – but at a fraction of the price. The opening of the Community Grocery will undoubtedly have an impact on the Foodbank. I caught up with one of our Distribution Centre Managers and this is what he had to say:
By Lauren Johnson
I caught up with Kamila, one of our young volunteers recently. Kamila is a 16-year-old volunteer with us at Energize. Kamila is a regular volunteer at our Sincil Bank youth club and has been volunteering with us for a few months; she is a great asset to our volunteer team.